Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

Who is ‘A.C.A.’?

Here’s the beginning of an article in the Times for 29th September, 1914: In all, the paper prints six of these efforts, each putting topical words to a traditional tune. So who is ‘A.C.A.’? If he’s familiar to officers from their schooldays, does this make him the author of a textbook, or perhaps the editor […]

Allan Monkhouse at the Finborough.

Annie Horniman The tiny Finborough Theatre in West London is one of my favourites. Like the Orange Tree at Richmond, it finds part of the British theatrical heritage that the National Theatre and the RSC don’t seem to be remotely aware of. This September and October, the Finborough programme will include Horniman’s Choice, a quartet […]

Hooray for Drivel

‘Mr. Robert Graves is interested in the ‘ballads’ that came into existence among the British troops during the war, but these are the merest drivel as he would agree.’ John Spiers, Scrutiny (June 1935)

C. S. Forester: Randall and the River of Time (1951)

A few days ago I complained that C.S. Forster had chosen to ignore the military achievements of the last hundred days of the War when he write The General, his attack on hidebound military incompetence. In Randall and the River of Time, written fourteen years later, he made up for this by giving a very […]

‘Barbed Wire’ and Hall Caine

This is just a quick note to recommend the film Barbed Wire (1927), available from Grapevine Video. Pola Negri plays a Frenchwoman whose family’s farm is commandeered by the authorities as a prison camp for captured Germans. At first she is prejudiced against them, because her brother has been reported killed in action. Gradually, though, […]

C. S. Forester, Hornblower and ‘The General’

It is C.S. Forester month at the Sheffield Hallam Popular Fiction Reading Group, and I have been reading (with considerable pleasure) the first Hornblower novel, The Happy Return (1937), but also re-reading The General (1936), Forester’s brilliant fictionalisation of the Liddell Hart view of the Great War and its military leadership. Reading the two novels […]

Le Rocambole

Today’s post brought something I’d been eagerly looking forward to – Le Rocambole for Summer-Autumn 2015. Le Rocambole is the Bulletin of Les Amis du Roman Populaire, whose conference in Amiens I attended last year, and this issue of the journal contains the papers delivered at the conference, including my own: Sapper : du réalisme au […]

G. F. Bradby: The Marquis’s Eye

This is my third Bradby novel, after The Lanchester Tradition, a satirical look at public schools, and For This I had Borne Him, an elegiac First World War novel. The Marquis’s Eye was published in 1904, and I took a look at it because I had read that it satirised Boer War patriotism and Mafficking. […]

Being Young During World War One

A conference on the subject of growing up during the Great War will be held at Manchester Metropolitan University on November 6th to 7th this year. I’m very happy about this because I got the email yesterday to say that they are going to let me give my paper on the Magnet comics during the […]

The Somme, 99 years on…

The Battle of the Somme was titanic on the ground ravaging the Picardy countryside, but the concussion waves rippling out from the sickening crash of each artillery shell reached every corner of Britain and its Empire. In other words, the military history is actually the key to a myriad of other histories unfolding hundreds of […]

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